Study finds lasting fatigue common after COVID-19 infection

November 10, 2020

More than half of people with acute COVID-19 infection continue to have persistent fatigue 10 weeks after their initial illness, according to a new study published November 9 in the open-access journal PLOS ONE by Liam Townsend of Trinity College Dublin, Ireland and colleagues.

Fatigue is one of the most common initial presenting complaints of people infected with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. The long-term consequences of COVID-19 have not been well-studied and concern has been raised that the virus has the potential to trigger a post-viral fatigue syndrome.

In the new study, researchers tracked fatigue, as well as patient characteristics including COVID-19 severity, laboratory markers, levels of inflammatory markers and pre-existing conditions, in 128 study participants who had previously been infected with SARS-CoV-2. The participants, all recruited from a post-COVID-19 outpatient clinic at St. James Hospital in Dublin, Ireland, were 54% female and averaged 49.5 years old (standard deviation ±15 years). 55.5% of the participants had been admitted to the hospital for their COVID-19 treatment while the remainder were treated as outpatients. On average, they were assessed for the study 72 days after discharge from a hospital or, if managed as an outpatient, after a timepoint 14 days following diagnosis.

Based on their score on the Chalder Fatigue Scale (CFQ-11), 52.3% (67/128) of study participants met the criteria for fatigue at the assessment point at least 6 weeks following COVID-19 infection. Only 42.2% of the patients (54/128) reported feeling back to their full health. Importantly, there was no association between COVID-19 severity, need for hospital admission, or routine laboratory markers of inflammation with the likelihood of experiencing persistent fatigue after infection. Though the study is limited in that the population cohort was predominantly white and Irish, and patients were only assessed at a single timepoint with no follow-up, the authors also found that female gender and a history of anxiety or depression was more common in the severe fatigue group (X2=9.95, p=0.002 for female; X2=5.18, p=0.02 for depression history).

The authors add: "This study highlights the burden of post-COVID fatigue. It also demonstrates that post-COVID fatigue is unrelated to severity of initial infection, so predicting its development is not easy."
-end-
Citation: Townsend L, Dyer AH, Jones K, Dunne J, Mooney A, Gaffney F, et al. (2020) Persistent fatigue following SARS-CoV-2 infection is common and independent of severity of initial infection. PLoS ONE 15(11): e0240784. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0240784

Funding: LT has been awarded the Irish Clinical Academic Training (ICAT) Programme, supported by the Wellcome Trust and the Health Research Board (Grant Number 203930/B/16/Z), the Health Service Executive, National Doctors Training and Planning and the Health and Social Care, Research and Development Division, Northern Ireland (https://icatprogramme.org/). NC is part-funded by a Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) grant, Grant Code 20/SPP/3685. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.

Competing Interests: The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.

In your coverage please use this URL to provide access to the freely available article in PLOS ONE: https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0240784

PLOS

Related Infection Articles from Brightsurf:

Halving the risk of infection following surgery
New analysis by the University of Leeds and the University of Bern of more than 14,000 operations has found that using alcoholic chlorhexidine gluconate (CHG) halves the risk of infection in certain types of surgery when compared to the more commonly used povidone-iodine (PVI).

How plants shut the door on infection
A new study by an international team including University of Maryland scientists has discovered the key calcium channel responsible for closing plant pores as an immune response to pathogen exposure.

Sensing infection, suppressing regeneration
UIC researchers describe an enzyme that blocks the ability of blood vessel cells to self-heal.

Boost to lung immunity following infection
The strength of the immune system in response to respiratory infections is constantly changing, depending on the history of previous, unrelated infections, according to new research from the Crick.

Is infection after surgery associated with increased long-term risk of infection, death?
Whether experiencing an infection within the first 30 days after surgery is associated with an increased risk of another infection and death within one year was the focus of this observational study that included about 660,000 veterans who underwent major surgery.

Revealed: How E. coli knows how to cause the worst possible infection
The discovery could one day let doctors prevent the infection by allowing E. coli to pass harmlessly through the body.

UK study shows most patients with suspected urinary tract infection and treated with antibiotics actually lack evidence of this infection
New research presented at this week's European Congress of Clinical Microbiology & Infectious Diseases (ECCMID) in Amsterdam, Netherlands (April 13-16, 2019) shows that only one third of patients that enter the emergency department with suspected urinary tract infection (UTI) actually have evidence of this infection, yet almost all are treated with antibiotics, unnecessarily driving the emergence of antimicrobial resistance.

Bacteria in urine doesn't always indicate infection
Doctors should think carefully before testing patients for a urinary tract infection (UTI) to avoid over-diagnosis and unnecessary antibiotic treatment, according to updated asymptomatic bacteriuria (ASB) guidelines released by the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA) and published in Clinical Infectious Diseases.

Subsidies for infection control to healthcare institutions help reduce infection levels
Researchers compared three types of infection control subsidies and found that under a limited budget, a dollar-for-dollar matching subsidy, in which policymakers match hospital spending for infection control measures, was the most effective at reducing the number of hospital-acquired infections.

Dengue virus infection may cause severe outcomes following Zika virus infection during pregnancy
This study is the first to report a possible mechanism for the enhancement of Zika virus progression during pregnancy in an animal model.

Read More: Infection News and Infection Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.